I had a fun and engaging dialogue today with a company that was very interested in learning how to make money with social media.

If you’re like many marketing directors, learning how to drive revenue with social media may the the #1 thing on your mind.

Surprisingly, many companies think of social media strictly as a branding tool. That is, they use it simply to build awareness for their brand rather than using it as a way to specifically drive revenue.

But using social media simply as a branding tool is 20th century thinking. A more sophisticated approach is to use it for a multitude of purposes, some that specifically make the cash register ring.

With that in mind, here are the 5 most common social media business models. Which ones would work best for your company? Do tell.

E-Commerce: If you can sell your product or service online, then your #1 goal for your social media campaign should be to drive prospects to a landing page on your website. That’s what DellOutlet does. They make special offers to their 1.5 million followers and drive those followers through to Twitter-specific landing pages on their site. My research indicates they’ve generated in excess of $5 million in revenue this way. (You can’t live on that, but, hey, it’s a start.)

Research: You can also use social media as a way to keep tabs on customer sentiments about your brand. One way to do that is to use a company like RapLeaf to analyze what people are saying about your brand online. Another way to do that is to launch a website like MyStarbucksIdea.com that asks customers to vote, discuss, share or see ideas from the Starbucks community.

Branding: Social media can also be used as a branding tool to build awareness and interest in your product or services. That’s what Toyota has done with this funny, light-hearted YouTube campaign promoting the Toyota Sienna.

Customer Retention: If it costs 3 to 5 times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an existing one, wouldn’t it be smart to use social media to to keep customers satisfied? That’s what Comcast has done with their ComcastCares Twitter page. Go Frank!

Lead Generation: Some companies can’t sell their products or services online. For those, you can use the lead generation model outlined in the graphic on this site. With this model, you’d drive people to a landing page on your site that captures lead information from your prospects. Once you’ve done that, you can re-market to the most qualified prospects and convert them to customers. (For an example of a lead generation capture form, check out the one we have for BKV Digital and Direct Response.)

The Bottom Line:

There are some very smart, very authoritative social media experts who claim that social media isn’t measurable. Quite frankly, they don’t don’t what they’re talking about. Social media is very measurable. Better still, if you set up your social media campaign properly, you can use social media to drive revenue. And isn’t driving revenue what it’s all about?

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Posted by Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer, the 60 Second Marketer. Jamie’s book, “How to Make Money with Social Media” will be published by the Financial Times Press this fall.